I was originally thinking of contractors and their customers - but the principles apply to inspectors as well.
Do you see them as your allies or your enemies?
Let's face it, there IS that 'enemy' element to our dealings. Our contracts have penalty clauses, there are lien laws, and anyone who's seen a "consumer" show has heard how evil contractors are.
Yet, business is all about trust, and you can't trust your enemy. It's a wonder anything gets done!
Get to the core of any customer / contractor dispute, and they all boil down to 'he couldn't / wouldn't / didn't do what I expected.'
I look back on the 'tense parts' of various jobs, and a lot of the customers' paranoia was fueled by their simply not understanding ALL that was involved in making things happen.
To illustrate this point, I had a customer hire me to install a new outlet. She couldn't understand why I was spending so much time at the panel .... she simply couldn't understand that the wires for the receptacle had to come from SOMEWHERE - or that I needed to work my way through the building until the wires made it to the place where she needed power. I guess she thought 'adding a receptacle' was like hanging a picture.
We have to remind ourselves that the customer has probably never dug a ditch, set a pole, hung pipe, or pulled wires. The customer has no real understanding of the time it takes to bend our pipe around ducts and to pierce walls. Then we MUST explain this to them, in advance, using small words and short sentences- and do it with a smile in our voice.
Maybe then they'll understand why we "cost so much," or why they shouldn't let some handyman play around.
Good contractors are definetly considered an allie (sp) IMHO, as an inspector.
Notice the word 'Good'.
Definition of 'Good' is paperwork, performance & conformance, job supervision as required, and follow-thru to 'final'.
As an EC, a good inspector was also considered an allie (sp).
As to my clients, I have to say I considered myself lucky that they, for the most part were, really great people. We respected each other and had mutual trust. Them for getting what they wanted, when they wanted it, and me and my employees for a good 25 years.
LOL at the 'cost so much'...when have you called a plumber lately?
Without customers we would all be out of work. There is no reason why there should be a them vs us thing going on. That is particularly true between inspectors and contractors. I agree that some customers have trouble understanding why doing things right costs more than the lowest bid but that is throughout the whole society. To pick an example completely away from our trade, I would point to airlines. People choose the cheapest possible fare for essentially the same flight and then wonder why that airline charges for lunch. As a society, we really need a good lesson in "you only get as much quality as you are willing to pay for".
I was watching a TV show the other day ... of a rather rouitine household remodel.
Once the job started, it really STARTED. First the crew took pictures, then removed anything in the area to a trailer outside. As the work progresses, and they found the usual complications, they opened walls as needed, did their thing, and closed it all up. The painter came in, a thouough cleaning was done, and the furnishings returned.
When the customer returned, the place looked untouched (remember those pictures?). The contractor then explained all the complications - again, showing pictures of the work in progress. Now the customer was simply awed- so much done, and no trace remained visible. The customer proceeded to gush about how happy they were to have had it 'done right.'
Ironically, these same folks were on camera earlier, discussing a previous remodel, hjow they 'checked references' and 'got quotes'... but were still not satisfied. The fact is, nobody had bothered to explain to them all that was involved in a 'simple' remodel.
Perhaps it comes down to the presentation. Perhaps it is this lack of explaining the details that sets the stage for the bad feelings later.
As for inspections, I recognize that there are other forces at work, and you'll never see the same relationship.
I can only respond based on who the customer is, and if it is a residential job, the customer is the enemy, so I have avoided this market after a brief entry. I have found that homeowners can't be relied upon to keep their own appointment times, balk at paying, and in general have no respect for electricity. Commercial customers have been a mixed bag, while industrial customers are very good. You may have to jump through multiple hoops to get their work, but my experience with this market has been good, and they are allies.
Re: Do You Have Allies or Enemies?
#196433 10/03/1001:36 AM10/03/1001:36 AM
My experience up till this point in my business(two years)is that except of one customer I have had no problems with the bill or getting paid.On a lot of my jobs for home owners I get them to help if I'am fishing a cable etc.And I have found that most customers come away with respect for what we do and also learn something about basic electrical wiring. I have found that If I explain what I'am going to do to get the job done,that goes along way in the job going as planed or if changes are required the home owner is receptive to the change.
Hot Line, I was being discrete simply because I didn't want the thread to go off on a tanget. I was referring to the inevetable differences in attudes that result when one party has the ability to insist that you use his services, can impose sanctions, andis immune to market forces.
(Anyone who doubts the influence of these factors need only compare the parking near City Hall to the parking at the local grocery store).
"Most never will get it." Well, there's our challenge. I went through something like this recently, where the cable TV worked amazingly better once the wires were re-run in a BICSI-approved manner. Still, it was something folks had to SEE before they believed. Suddenly, the 'cheap' handyman who had done the first job didn't look like such a smart deal.
I won't deny that customers will insist on things because they think theyknow how we arrive at our prices. For example, I had one office manager who wanted ALL the lights to be controlled by ONE switch. His reasoning: he thought we charged 'per opening.' (Later, when we added motion sensors, the location of the only switch led to the sensor working poorly.)
I often use loose analogies for customers when they ask 'why do i need this'
sometimes i need to work at it, sometimes they get it right off, your milage may vary....
overall, i can honestly say most people are ok if it makes sense to them that they have a particular need, and that safety issues dictate said need should be done via a certain method or manner
but most of what we do is based on the NEC
and i've been told in the past i'm in some sort of ambassador poistion pertinent to upholding it
the problem is, as the NEC becomes more shill to "masters of manufacturing electrical widgets for our own good", the harder it is to impart that basic common sense to the end user/customer
we don't retain anybody with 'Because it's the Code" sanctimonious copout, and every tme i hear it , it's usually due to the NEC dropping the ball in the EC's (or inspectors) court, and expecting us to dribble for them